Rock Harbor church has been spending the last few months unpackaging the great story of God. I have loved the times I have been able to be part of the conversation - so when the call came to co-teach this weekend with him on the "Great Commission" from Matt 28, I was pretty stoked.
It gave me a most wonderful weekend to refleect on the many amazing heroes I know, who are 'discipling a nation' in a big or small way. These remarkable men and women will probably never have their story told in headlights nor have books written about them. They are ordinary people like you and me, who put up their hands as they wanted to belong to a bigger God story - an adventure that only God could provide.
I mean, there is the kiwi Tony who is passionate in his focus to refocus Nagaland in India. There is Sandy who has helped establish Jesus loving pre-schools in parts of the world where Jesus is simply not spoken of. Or do you know about Rob who has planted churches among the horsemen in Mongolia or Hennie who teaches army generals leadership through the scriptures in one of the most civil war destroyed countries in the world. An the list goes on and on and on - just remarkable men and women I love and respect so deeply.
But, can I ask, why has the call to the nations slowed down? Am I right? Well I think there are some very unhelpful reasons for this malaise:
- The fragmentation of apostolic households have created uncertainty of love and partnership out there in the front lines,
- The call to multi-siting has replaced the bigger conversation as many churches have become imperialistic in their quest for multiplied branding [I do believe in multi-siting - but it is a reason why few folks are responding to the call to the nations]
- The international political uncertainty is not for the faint hearted. This so called 'Arab Spring' has toppled a number of secular Arab governments that have created social uncertainty for many,
- The economic downturn world wide has reduced funds for bigger stories. Churches and believers have cut back on giving on many fronts. Unfortunately, the call to the nations does bow to the need for new buildings and more staff,
- Many of the successful pastors are no longer relocating themselves. They are adopting more of a Petrine model of leadership - remaining in one church. The Pauline approach of establishing a beach head, then moving and doing it again, and again - is no longer a subject of primary conversation,
- Nationalism has crept up the ladder of emphasis among leaders. Here in America, I do agonize, the call to the nations rarely is heard,
- City transformation has captured the hearts of many. Of course that is a good thing. However Jesus simply did not give us an either... or - Jerusalem or the uttermost. He simply said and... and... and...
- Insufficient courageous leaders who are calling believers to a large God adventure but will then walk with them in their simple obedience,
- The missionary model keeps eliminating the call to foreign shores to the 'green beret' christians rather than seeing it as a mandate to all - businessmen and women, teachers, contractors, medical personnel....
Can we beat this drum again? Can we model the call again? Can we offer this next generation a big faith adventure that only God can fulfill? I hope so. I am hearing the call to re-engage Europe with the gospel. I am hearing the call to the Middle East. Who will join us?